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Declare victory in the war on drugs and release the prisoners

That’s what Chuck is fond of saying. But there are times when they don’t take prisoners. Drug warriors rely on bogus tips from paid informants and raid the wrong house or put on their gay little ninja outfits or use excessive force. And someone dies. Pete has a memorial page for drug war casualties. Well, it happened again and this time it’s so embarrassing that it’s getting press and blog play. The AP:

A 92-year-old woman was shot to death Tuesday after she fired at three narcotics officers trying to serve a warrant at her house, officials said.

Neighbors and relatives said it must have been a case of mistaken identity. Police said they had the right address.

Police said the woman, whose name was not released, was the only person home at the time, and had lived there for about 17 years.

As the plainclothes Atlanta police officers approached the house about 7 p.m., a woman inside started shooting, striking each of them, said Officer Joe Cobb, a police spokesman. One was hit in the arm, another in a thigh and the third in a shoulder.

The officers were taken to a hospital for treatment, and all three were conscious and alert, police said.

Sarah Dozier, identified as a niece of the woman, told WAGA-TV that there were never any drugs at the house.

“My aunt was in good health. I’m sure she panicked when they kicked that door down,” Dozier said. “There was no reason they had to go in there and shoot her down like a dog.”

Got that? The police likely raided the wrong house and shot dead a 92 year-old woman. Unreal. And, as is standard operating procedure, the wall of silence will go up and no one will be held to account. What others are saying:

Glenn: these raids should only occur when there’s reason to believe that lives are in immediate jeopardy. And police should be liable, civilly and criminally, without any shield of official immunity, in cases where these no-knock raids go wrong.

Radley: You know, watching local news coverage of the shooting, you’d think that the only newsworthy aspect to all of this is that three police officers suffered non-life-threatening wounds. The lack of focus on the fact that a 92-year-old woman is dead is rather appalling.

Pete: No politicians were harmed in the gunfire.

AC: When police make a mistake — someone can die. I am not saying that a no-knock raid, as this clearly was, should never be authorized but you better be damn sure.

My $0.02: Those involved in this raid should be prosecuted. I’m generally for police having legal protection when doing their job correctly. But when they fuck up that bad, they should lose that protection.

Update: Tam:

If I gotta die, I want it to be at 92 years old in a shootout with the cops.

And she’d probably have landed some head shots. On a more somber note:

We, as a society, have a lot to be really proud of there, no?

Drugs are winning the war on drugs.

Update: Radley caught the police presser:

1) The search warrant was in fact a no-knock warrant.

2) Police claim there was an undercover buy at the residence. The seller was apparently a man — obviously not Ms. Johnston.

3) “Suspected narcotics” were seized from the home, and have been sent to a crime lab for analysis. The assistant chief wouldn’t say how much of the suspected narcotics they found.

4) He also wouldn’t speculate if Johnston herself was involved in dealing drugs, or knew if drugs were being dealt from her home, saying only that both were “under investigation.”

5) He maintains that despite the no-knock warrant police still announced themselves before entering, though he acknowledged moments later that the announcement came as police were battering down the door

15 Responses to “Declare victory in the war on drugs and release the prisoners”

  1. Brutal Hugger Says:

    I was about to post this story when I saw you beat me to it.

    The only thing I disagree with is the notion that drugs are winning this war. Nobody wins. Cops lose because they waste their time and blood killing and capturing people that shouldn’t be prosecution targets. Users lose because they have to become criminals to engage in largely harmless activities. Non-users lose because they’re the ones who get caught in the crossfire and they pay for all this death in loss of freedom, privacy and taxes. We all lose because drug hysteria fuels all kinds of junk science that is preventing us from finding out how harmful drugs are and more importantly stopping us from seeing if there are any benefits to be had.

    The only ones who win are the politicians who use scare tactics as a campaign issue.

  2. Phelps Says:

    And what does it say about all this SWAT training if THREE of them get plugged by a 92 year old woman that THEY surprised before they could put her down? Oh, I”m sure it took a couple of magazines to get her to stop firing, because we all know how many rounds those 92 year old women can take.

    I’m quickly losing what respect I have left for law enforcement.

  3. straightarrow Says:

    There are three unnamed murder suspects in hospital right now, that should be in jail awaiting trial. As uncle said, when you fuck up that badly, you should be held accountable. In fact, you should alway be held accountable, if you don’t fuck up, the account balances in your favor, otherwise pay the consequences. If the risk seems to steep to operate in that manner, perhaps you should be using different tactics. ‘ DUH!

  4. straightarrow Says:

    too not to. proof reading is my fred.

  5. tgirsch Says:

    The story I read said that this was a knock-and-announce raid WITH a warrant, not a no-knock warrant:

    The officers had a legal warrant, “knocked and announced” before they forced open the door and were justified in shooting once fired upon, he said.

  6. SayUncle Says:

    I think it’s it up in the air about the knocking for now (i’ve seen conflicting accounts).

    There’s also the issue that knock-announce tend to go like this:

    knock lightly, count to 2, break in door.

    Not really knock-announce, if you ask me.

  7. Billy Beck Says:

    Anyone who’s been paying attention to this sort of thing for any time at all will understand that there is just about no practical, street-level, distinction between a “knock-and-announce” raid and a “no-knock” raid. The “knock-and-announce” part takes place just about instantly on blowing through the door, and very typically quite before occupants are really aware of what’s happening. The distinction is useful only in legal documents.

    This point only rarely makes its way into discussions of the morality of this bloody outrageous horseshit, but it should.

    Then, of course, there is the morality of the thing itself.

    I was over it a long time ago: no power on earth can make me “respect” cops now. They’re despicable, precisely because they’re “only doing their jobs” (phrasing in popular defenses). They might have done their profession enormous honor by standing up against this sort of thing a long time ago, but they’ve gone a different way. And now, the work is attracting all the wrong sorts, for all the wrong reasons.

    None of it is going anywhere good.

  8. Sigivald Says:

    If they’re going to take bogus tips from paid informants, they should just pay me to make stuff up.

    Unlike their informants, I’m much less likely to spend the money on anything illegal, at least.

    I’m of the opinion that any such raids should be video and audiotaped with cameras and mics on every officer, so that there can’t be any doubt about what happened, when, and how.

    And like Reynolds said on his blog – use sparingly, and (if not none) reduced immunity for screwups. There’s a time and a place for no-knock or announce-and-bust-in raids. The problem is they’re used for too many other times and places.

  9. Standard Mischief Says:

    Maybe we need to try, where it’s available, some kind of recall for judges who go all rubber stamp-ee on the no knocks.

    A bit of well crafted publicity, hitting the airwaves and teh bloggers nationwide, might reel in those rouge judges.

    I’m guessing 10 to 1 that the highest ranking LEO in the area is appointed, not elected too.

  10. Ninth Stage » Blog Archive » Belligerent Women Says:

    […] Via SayUncle. […]

  11. beerslurpy Says:

    For some reason, this sort of injustice doesnt seem to stir up as much outrage as you would expect. Any ideas why?

    Is it the media for playing it from the POV of the cops?

    Is it politicians for predicting doomsday scenarios if we go soft in the WOD?

    Is it something else?

    You would think this problem would be relatively easy to solve if people wanted it solved. There is zero reason for cops to be doing these raids and there is no excuse for the sort of sloppyness that confuses young male drug dealers with elderly women. Either they were grossly negligent or they lied about their pre-raid investigation. All you have to do is start throwing these cops in jail and the raids will stop overnight.

  12. J sub D Says:

    We all just frogs sitting in the water. The temperature just went up one more degree. Did you notice? Do you feel warm yet? We’ll be boiled (NO RIGHTS) before we complain.

  13. Josh Says:

    I know I’ll get a lot of heat for saying this, but I have come to the conclusion that “we the people” will have to start hurting (i.e. killing) those responsible before any of this madness comes to a stop. Everytime an innocent person is killed, you see the same thing: The police conduct an “investigation”, find the officers involved not responsible, and the family of the victim is shit out of luck. Or sometimes they get some money but that doesn’t bring the dead back. When was the last time you saw an officer go to prison for hurting or terrorizing innocent people? If they are not willing to clean up their ranks, somebody else will have to do it.

  14. S. Price Says:

    It seems to me that all of the focus is on Miss Johnston R.I.P. and it is quite a tragedy, but what must be understood is that these no knock warrants are necessary to protect the officers and to convict these criminals. If the officers knock and announce themselves the offenders can flush the drugs down the toilet and are then able to go free to sell drugs to our children again. The fact of the matter is, Miss Johnston opened fire on these officers (as they served a legal warrent) and they RETURNED fire. The best change in policy would be to have uniformed officers serve warrants. It would cause less confusion. I may have done the same thing as Miss Johnston if men broke down my door in plainclothes, even if they annouce themselves as police (anyone could say they are the police). Honestly put yourself in the officer’s position. if someone shoots at you while you are on the job serving a warrant you would shoot back, remember she did shoot atleast three times and hit three police officers before she was killed. I live in Atlanta and the way the local news and civil rights spokesmen are talking as if the police just gunned down a lady like a dog. that was not the case. I am very sorry for the loss of life but lets not make it into a which hunt. This was a terrible terrible accident.

  15. S. Price Says:

    And by the way, if these “raids” stop then the same people that wanted to stop them would be blaming the police for not doing a good job arresting and convicting the drug dealers that are selling drugs to their 13 year old kids. you cant have your cake and eat it too

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